PCM Pass

PCM Pass

Postby austinarchitect » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:53 am

Hello All,
So I have decided to do a write up for each exam that I have taken so far. To give you guys a background, I have failed every ARE 5.0 exam at least once so don't be discouraged. I have attempted every exam and so far I am 3 for 6 (Halfway!). I figured I could pass on some of my knowledge of how I passed each exam to help others. I took this exam three times and passed on my third try(Thank the Lord above). When I first started studying I was overwhelmed with what do I study, how to study etc. Here's my advice:

So here is what I used to pass:
ARE Ballast 5.0 Review Manual
ARE Ballast 5.0 Practice Exam
Schiff Hardin Lectures
AIA Contracts with commentary
NCARB Code of Ethics
NCARB Community

Here's what didn't work:
Black Spec
Plural Sight

I do have the AHPP but it was too overwhelming for me, maybe not you but for me it was. I like Ballast because everything is in one book.

I took this exam on
8/8/2017 Fail
10/7/2017 Fail
1/12/2018 Pass

I ultimately ended up passing this exam after passing CE and PJM. I highly suggest studying for PCM, PJM and CE together. They all overlap so much and I wish I had done that sooner.

The biggest shift that caused me to pass was I took some time off after my initial fails to regroup and rethink. Sometimes we get in this study block and we need to step away. After a short month break, I came back with a fresh mindset and really started to understand that these exams are by NCARB for NCARB aka THINK LIKE NCARB. My mindset went from "What does my firm or what would I do?" to "What does NCARB want me to answer, how can this protect the health safety and welfare of the public?" This exam overlaps with PJM and CE and if you think of this as the big picture it will help with your studies.

If you guys have any questions feel free to shoot them at me.

Best of luck to all!

-Austin Fox :D
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Re: PCM Pass

Postby alulrich1667 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 12:49 pm

Did you try Black Spectacles and not like it?
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:23 am

Re: PCM Pass

Postby austinarchitect » Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:55 pm

Hello alulrich1667
I actually used them first and did not find them helpful. Too broad in my opinion. On my first attempt, they were my main resource since they seemed the most reliable. For this exam, reading the contracts really narrowed it down and should of been my main focal point from the beginning.

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Re: PCM Pass

Postby Alan » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:28 pm

Did you read the matrix books to pass? Or just the study materials?
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:24 pm

Re: PCM Pass

Postby austinarchitect » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:36 am

Alan wrote:Did you read the matrix books to pass? Or just the study materials?

Alan, tbh I didnt even look at those. I originally made my list by seeing what worked for people and what did not. Ultimately I had to learn myself through trial and error which is how I came to the list above.

Regards, Austin
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:51 am

Re: PCM Pass

Postby Sarcasmo » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:58 am

Alan and Austinarchitect:

Congrats on the pass, Austin.

Alan, I would add that skipping the 5.0 Handbook study matrix as Austin did won't be an approach recommended by many candidates -- this approach would leave out the AHPP. Several chapters of the AHPP figure very prominently into this exam.
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Re: PCM Pass

Postby bmmuscroft11 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:40 pm


congrats on you success. Maybe I can pick your brain for some advice. Ive failed PcM and PjM twice and i'm getting a little bummed. Im in my 40's with a family, so studying gets a bit difficult at times.
I've used all the material you mentioned, but still no luck. when you finally passed PcM, what do you think you did differently?


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